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McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 

McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (R-Ky.) is urging President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE to "pull back from the brink" from an international fight over tariffs, warning they could start a "trade war."

"I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war, and I hope we pull back from the brink here," McConnell said at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Congressional Summit in Kentucky on Friday, according to the local business journal.

"These tariffs will not be good for the economy, and I worry that it will slow, or impede significantly, the progress we're making economically," McConnell added.

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The Republican leader's comments are the latest sign of GOP backlash after the Trump administration announced Thursday that it would make good on a threat to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada, ending an exemption for the key trading allies.

McConnell has repeatedly warned the administration against such trade moves, particularly over concerns that steep tariffs could roil the economy and spark retaliation from other countries. 

"It won't surprise you to know that I'm among those not happy about the prospect of a trade war," the Senate GOP leader said Friday.

McConnell is one of several GOP lawmakers who have spoken out against Trump's tariff decision.

"I disagree with this decision," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBoehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday

Meanwhile,  GOP Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination Kinzinger: GOP 'certainly not united' on 'vision for the future' Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Neb.) has called the move "dumb"; Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchHow President Biden can hit a home run Mellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs are a "tax hike" and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE (Tenn.) argued Trump was abusing his authority to impose tariffs tied to national security.

Republicans have also been up front about the fact that they are worried Trump's trade moves could roil the economy months before a midterm election, undoing what they view as a boost from last year's tax bill. 

GOP Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.) announced on Friday that he would support legislation by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' Judiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination MORE (R-Utah) that would boost congressional oversight on Trump's tariff decisions.

But McConnell on Friday downplayed the chances that Congress would ultimately pass a bill reining in Trump's trade powers. 

The Senate GOP leader said there was "not much" lawmakers could do, noting any legislation would have to be signed by the president or have enough support to overcome a veto.

“Under the trade law, the president has pretty much all the ability to do these things, so there’s not much we can do to impact it. It’s really an executive branch activity. ... It’s just that I think many of us feel that it shouldn’t be done," McConnell told Insider Louisville. 

—Updated at 5:31 p.m.